low-gluten pastry

Making shortcrust pastry

Pastry is your friend

Some people worry about making shortcrust pastry, but it’s not hard and you get loads of opportunities to get it right.  If it’s too dry, add water; if it’s too wet, add flour; if it’s a sticky mess when you roll it out and it won’t come off that counter, then knead it back together again with a little flour, then roll out again.  Pastry really is your friend.


Try to do this

Having said that, always try to have cold hands and use the tips of your fingers (because they’re colder).  Try to work fast and light – don’t work the pastry for too long otherwise it gets a bit tougher.  Personally, I don’t even use a food processor because I feel it toughens up the pastry, but if you do then process for a very very short time so your pastry stays light and merry.


DSCF1122Follow your recipe or use these quantities (for a pastry that’s easy to roll – woohoo!):

  • 150g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • knife tip (pinch) of vanilla powder (optional)
  • 90g butter (cold and cut into little pieces)
  • 30g icing sugar (or caster/granulated sugar)
  • 30g egg yolks (about 1 and a half yolks from medium-sized eggs)
  • 3/4 to 1 tablespoon ice cold water (put half a tablespoon in first to see if the pastry comes together)



  1. Sift the flour, pinch of salt and flavouring (like vanilla powder, if there is any) in a big bowl and whisk together to combine well. DSCF1124
  2. Add the small cubes of cold butter and rub into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers until you get a bowl of what looks like dry and not totally fine breadcrumbs. You would do this with both hands.  I’m doing it with only one hand, because the other hand is holding the video camera! 🙂 
  3. Whisk in the sugar.
  4. Add the egg yolk and cold water and stir quickly with a fork or your hand, till the pastry comes together in a ball.  It might be sticky.  DSCF1143
  5. Take your pastry to a table top and ‘fraiser’ quickly once or twice to ensure there are no lumps of butter left that could melt and leave holes in your tart! (if you see what I mean).  You ‘fraiser’ by using your wrist to pull the pastry in sections along the worktop, squashing so everything combines well (see the video below).


Here’s a youtube link on how to make a Pate Brisée if you want a demo (watch from 1:00 for rubbing the ingredients in, and from 2:05 for the fraisage) – it’s in French but you’ll see what’s happening plus he has a lovely voice 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSBTyS6deUE

LET YOUR PASTRY REST A BIT (it becomes happier and easier to roll):

Wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge for 30 mins to an hour before using.  Too little and it will be soft and sticky.  Too long and it will become hard to roll out (but you can leave it out a while so it softens again).  And here’s your new friend:DSCF1147